Monday, 2 April 2018

9 days away

When you book a return flight to Australia that originates in Oslo

 This creates one minor detail - The need to get to Oslo to meet the departure. 

It's nice to have a problem such as this. Below is what I pieced together for a 9 day jaunt from Cairns to Norway and back using a business class fare on Qatar Airlines traveling on there B787 & A380 and using Avianca's LifeMiles to do the rest outside of Australia.

To start the journey was a last minute purchase 2 days out from departure. A Jetstar flight from Cairns to Narita. The most I have ever paid for this sector. What made it even worse was the price either side of the date I had to purchase was 1/2 the price. I have never ever paid this amount for Cairns Narita return.

Thats my last beef about highway robbery and price gouging by an airline and there were 50 plus seats empty on the plane. 
(I guess they had to get me one day for all the cheap flights I purchased to Japan previously)   

The itinerary and costing

23 Feb 2018  :  JQ25 Cairns - Narita  - Yconomy B787           AUD$719

24 Feb 2018  :  NH231 Narita - Brussels - Business B787      AUD$1489
                       (75,000 LifeMiles used - Value AUD$1425) 

26 Feb 2018   : SN2283 Brussels - Oslo - Business A319       AUD$386 
                        (8,500 LifeMiles used - Value AUD$161)

02 Mar 2018  : QR180 Oslo - Doha - Business B787               AUD$1743
                        R904 Doha - Melbourne - Business A380

04 Mar 2018 : VA1291 Melbourne - Cairns - Yconomy B737   AUD$238

The total cost was AUD$4575 
less the JQ & VA cost the international fare was $3618 
Now that's very very good & the in-flight product on both ANA and Qatar was brilliant.

Monday, 22 January 2018

It's been nearly a year since I have done any travelling.

I've started 2018 with booking a return flight with Qatar. I have mentioned this before, if you can plan two trips you can get a brilliant deal in the reverse order. Most Business class airfares out of Australia cost around AUD$6800. If you book as I have just done the same trip in the reverse order it will cost just over AUD$3486. Thats a saving of AUD$3300 

There are several reasons for picking these routes. firstly I wanted to travel on several aircraft types and this booking covers the A380, B787 & A350. I'm also looking forward to spending time at the bar on the A380...

Now all that is needed is to get to Europe to meet the flight.

So far it's looking like a oneway fare to Asia to meet a LifeMiles award flight to Copenhagen. This will work in nicely to catch a ship to Oslo, allowing me to finish a rail journey that I could not do last time due to a landslide on the Flam railway line.

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Could you do it?

If you came across a Business Class Fare between Australia and Europe for a little over AUD$3,000 with a recognised carrier

AH.. the catch.. 

: The fare is :

Milan - Melbourne, Sydney or Brisbane - Milan

Try to buy it the other way Australia to Milan and it cost over AUD$6,000

The fare is available now with Thai Airways

Airlines are known to change aircraft type but if they are as they are now I would choose to fly in and out of Melbourne. They are using the A350 and the B777-300ER Melbourne to Bangkok : seats have direct access (no trying to get past the seat next to you if its occupied) The B787 & B747 are not on my list as there Seating is as mentioned!!

So ? Plan to take 2 trips 

Use some of your frequent flyer miles to get you over there spend a couple of weeks fly back Thai Airways Business Class and that gets you setup to fly out of Australia next time and all you need to do is do the same and redeem an award flight back to Australia.

The only limitation is the flights can only be booked 11 months out from the booking date. 

I'm thinking if these fares are still available in 1 months time take 2 weeks in late May and then another 2 weeks which will include Christmas and New Years. Late May = Portugal / Late December = Christmas and New Years in the North, Maybe a Baltic country

Cheers to a Super Fare when you find them 

Saturday, 25 June 2016

A planned yet secret trip to Vancouver

33,750 Km's

There were several ... 

Surprise my parents at the end of there tour

Make use of Avianca LifeMiles

Fly ANA's 777 in 1st class Haneda to LA

Fly ANA's 787 business class


The surprise was a winner

LifeMiles always allows me to travel in comfort!!!

ANA's 777 1st class - Sensational 

ANA's 787 : fantastic service and style

To see how I made this trip affordable 

As you will see if you push the button I had flights from Tokyo through to Vancouver and back to Sydney. To complete the journey I needed to get from Cairns to Japan and Sydney to Cairns. Jetstar had a special on - buy one way and get the return free - So I did, A$319 up to Narita in June and back in November. You know what that means, I now have to go to Japan late October to use the return flight Narita to Cairns. 

Already in the planning - Hong Kong Airlines have great fares Cairns to Hong Kong. I have a Ramen eating plan for 3 days in Hong Kong and then onto Kogashima. Ready to try the satsuma cuisine..!! and then make my way up to Tokyo for that Free flight home.

The flight from Sydney to Cairns was the 2nd half of a Free return flight I received as part of a deal with the American Express Velocity Platinum Card. 

Now onto ANA's 1st class experience. I had high expectations and they did not disappoint. From the moment I checked in my ever so small piece of checked luggage (5 days in Vancouver I didn't need much) it just got better. Up the escalators and you then enter the Suite Lounge, passed the mighty large Stainless Steel Doors.

As it was a late departure I headed for the Restaurant, ordered dinner, a glass of Champagne Collet was offered while I waited.

On Board and all the pre-departure preparation was in play. The funky / Sexy Samsonite amenities pack was handed to me and a glass of Krug... AH ... I am lovin this ....  

Moving right along - in flight - I'll let the pictures tell the story.. This can be a never ending story - All food was on request, so I happily managed to use my time wisely.   

A little over 10 hrs later 

A transit in LA for 2.5 hrs and then Air Canada flight to Vancouver business class on a A320, a 3 hour flight. As you have to collect your luggage and clear customs it's oh so nice to find that someone has collected your luggage off the carousel and has it waiting for you in LAX. 

Air Canada's flight from LAX to YVR  was a very average cramped 3 hours on what I call a short domestic Business class product. We arrived on time, exited the Airport and in a Taxi to my accommodation. The whole process was swift 


Friday, 8 April 2016

For all those who are not aware or have not used airbnb : 

Their is an a component of the payment procedure which is unclear and can cost you unexpectedly. As you proceed though the process of making a booking and provide your credit card details you are never advised that the charge will be made in USA.

When searching the website for accommodation, in my case all rates where shown in Australian dollars. Airbnb has a physical presence in Australia so I wrongly assumed they would charge locally as well. They do not.  Most credit card providers attract an international transaction fee and you only find out once it has hit your account. It varies from bank to bank but in my case it was 3% of the transaction amount. If your intend on making several bookings this can add up to a free nights accommodation.!!!

I did write to airbnb and yes as they advised it is in there T's & C's - the usual small print that I don't read....Boo Hoo... 

If I were made aware I would have used a different credit card.

This one:

The 28 degrees MasterCard as it does not attract any foreign currency or international transaction fees by the provider. The best card for me to take travelling as well.

Cheers and Happy Travels 

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Two point Five days in Melbourne
part 2

How I found the airfare to get me to Melbourne for a feeding frenzy

This is the usual starting point for me - search the airlines direct to see whats on offer then of to Orbitz to see what they come up with and then Skyscanner is next inline. Skyscanner seems to find fares sometimes that Orbitz cannot. 

Well it worked skyscanner found the same fares as the airlines were offering but at a cheaper price. You cannot book on skyscanner they are a travel search engine. The deal they found was through BYOJET. I had not used them before but the who process worked and the E-Ticket arrived promptly with booking references for both airlines. So you can then go to the airlines website to select seat etc. The Virgin fare type was not upgradable but the Qantas fare was.

It's easy to check by going to these pages and entering your details

Virgin :

Qantas :

You can go onto Qantas website and request an upgrade using points only well in advance but I find the amount of point required is a little high and not the best use of the points. My sector was CNS-MEL and it would have cost 20,000 points. I decided to wait and see if I got the invitation email to bid for an upgrade, which is a $ value + amount of points.

Indeed I got the email and I put a bid in. The minimum points was 4,000 so I left it as that, the starting $ value was $210. I put a bid in at $215 and the bid was accepted. 

I value my points/miles at A$15 per 1,000 and that's how I work the numbers for my cost value analysis.

This made the whole Two point Five days end rather nicely...

Two point Five days in Melbourne 

A getaway from FNQ to indulge in a Food & Booze fix of the southern kind.

Found the airfare through Skyscanner which redirected to byojet
I'll revisit the deal on the next page

I forgot how fat the wallet has to be if you intend to eat out, possible every meal you are on the ground in a big city!! But hey it was worth it, I don't do it very often - so a little splurge is rather a pleasant experience

Arrived 4pm and towards the city we shall go. got into the CBD at about 6pm and people were hanging out of restaurant doors in every direction. No reservation, 40 min wait!! this says keep looking, so we did. 

Night 1 

Fantastic food, all we had was tapas size eats and for me the drink of the night was sherry.. Ah the desire to return to Spain has been reinforced 
Loved the buzz - great way to start a visit to Melvegas. The vibe of walking several block to get there because the wait at other places was to long just made the evening great....

Day 1

The 1st full day in the big city and I wanted to firstly try  Lune Croissanterie as a day starter and I heard the product was brilliant. Time for a coffee and croissant to start the day. The coffee was goodish and the croissant was underwhelming. They looked great!! I chose a filled croissant - it looked good on the outside so I purchased with my eyes. It was over filled and stodgy and you just could not taste the croissant. The venue was brilliant and I definitely would go back to try a plain croissant as they also looked fantastic, personally I just made a bad choice for me. Feeling fat and lardy it was back to our accommodation to then walk several Km's along the Maribynong River until ones belly felt better  

Time for a coffee, next stop was The Boat House on The Maribynong, great view, great venue, great location :-: bad coffee..!! 

Now it's time to jump on a tram, Myki Card at the ready, No. 57 towards the city, a walk around a few streets then onto No. 1 to Port Melbourne weaving through the burbs to the waters edge and then a walk to St Kilda. A massive walk, longer than anticipated but a great way to get ready for the rest of the day. From here it was time to jump on a tram towards the city. Wrong tram it turned left but that put us near a pub called the Fifth Province. So what to do? walk in and have a glass of vino, seated street-side watching the people go by. 

I have an app on my phone called FourSquare and it popped up with Milk The Cow as 2nd best wine bar in Melbourne. It was about 4pm, great time to sit and eat light, which we did. a flight of 5 sparkling wines and 5 cheeses to match. Just Brilliant, they do all the work and select the combo and we get to taste some food and wine that we would normally not pick out. Highly recommend this place, the staff are great and have fantastic knowledge and the cheese selection is Ginormous... love it Love it 

Back on the tram heading towards the city, more walking once there and we head towards AC/DC Lane. We were smack on 6pm as we walked towards our chosen restaurant Pastuso. without a reservation ... yes they had a table only condition is we had to be gone by 8pm, easy. Peruvian food - guess what ?? Peru is now on my bucket list. More love.!!! food was really really good, great flavours and part of the menu is a Ceviche Bar. Overall we ate small, 5 plates to share and wine and walked out feeling very happy.

Its time to call it done for the day, jump on a tram and homeward bound.

Day 2

Last full day - so lets eat and drink some more..!!!
Breakfast at Mama Bear was fantastic. I said that I would only have coffee this morning to save ones belly for the rest of the day BUT the menu was to good looking!! I weakened and had a massive breakfast. Great coffee, great food and a must go to in Ascot Vale. Oh hale to the hipsters love this place.

More walking for more Km's to prepare for the rest of the day and lesson the impact of breakfast.!!!

Next: Mkyi Card at the ready - tram to the city and then outward bound to Richmond for lunch at Bouzy Rouge (mmm 3pm so just a bite) - 2 glasses of wine and a couple of Tapas. YUM Croqueta's were SO tasty..!!! This place is so groovy and I want to come back. The fit-out of the interior is so good - love it....  

More walking the on a tram back to the city 

Embla was the place for a drink once we got to the city. Talk a load off the feet!!! the wine list was really interesting. 1 glass and onwards

Bomba was were we could not get into on the 1st night - but we did get a seat at the bar as we were so early.  The food and wine was GREAT, the aged Jamón was so good and I again had a sherry or two to have with the tapas.

Out the door in a hour and a bit and on a walk to Hardware Lane. We were told about a new Bar called the French Salon which is located above Kirk's wine bar. Closed on Saturday nights Booo Hooo. Until next time..!!! So we had a glass of Champagne at Kirk's wine bar which is a really nice place to sit and people watch.

Tram time - burbs bound towards Union Road, Ascot Vale to get off and try another Spanish restaurant : Arcadia 
Really nice and lucky we got a table. It's a family run restaurant serving traditional home style food. Nothing tricky on the plate just good Spanish tapas. Busy busy and loads of families enjoying the place. As I said really good food and just a nice place to go close to home.

Last Morning

Time for one more outing before heading to the airport. Back to Union Street in Ascot Vale for coffee at Little Byrd. Ye Ha - This coffee was really good - had to have a 2nd and then 3rd before heading out the door very happy.